Sunday, April 27, 2008

Settling Back to Normal...

Everything is finally tidying up, but it feels like this April has been the longest month in a very, very long time. I've been working many 10-12 hour days (for those of you who do so on a regular basis, shut up. It's a lot for me, and that's all that concerns me at present!), taking on extra web work for but taking care of my regular clients at the same time. I've just returned from a 4-day visit to Dear Friend and Baby Pudgekin in Denver. The Landerses have just brought their sweet Baby Maggie home after a very tense time involving surgery and the PICU. And the Caudills have been cleared to go get their little Yo-Yo in China after years of runarounds and metaphorical bureaucratic plane crashes.

I resume the 10-12 hour days tomorrow for another few weeks, and although I am grateful for the work and the income to follow, I am pining for some Beach Time for a week or more in the near future. Just sitting on the beach, reading and napping in the shade of that really awesome portable cabana I saw in SkyMall.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

A Very Long Wait

Some of you have heard me speak of Shane and Anna Caudill, an amazing couple that has been working their way through the China adoption maze for a few years now. They chose to seek out a "special needs" adoption, and their hearts led them to Tien Yo, a little boy with cloacal exstrophy, the most severe birth defect compatible with human life. He was rescued by nuns when he was 5 days old, and last July, he traveled to the US for life-saving surgery at Johns Hopkins.

The adoption process has been, to put it mildly, difficult. And miracle child that he is, Yo-Yo will always need special medical care and treatment. But Shane and Anna have been longing for a child for 14 years now, and on April 30th they are finally flying to China to pick up their new son, and to learn how to take care of his medical needs.

Anna has been writing a blog about the frustrations and exhilarations she and Shane have been experiencing since they started the adoption process a while back, and now that they have been given final approval, she is letting the public read it. And to my chagrin, she refuses to ask for assistance, but they still need about $5000 for travel expenses. Fortunately, I am shameless enough to ask FOR them.

"Waiting Child" ( Please take a look! I'd recommend going back to the very first post, and reading backwards from there. There is a Paypal link for donations on the right menu.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Shamelessly Stealing from Garrison Keillor

I don't care what some people think about Keillor, I adore his writing. And some of the attributes below do not seem like any Episcopalians I know, but maybe it's because I'm from the South, and jello is no longer popular. But several of these things are spot-on, especially the comments on singing. Apparently my instinct for singing a third above or below the melody means I was born to be Episcopalian, despite my essentially fundamentalist upbringing!

(Adapted from an essay by Garrison Keillor; I suspect it has been added to by persons unknown...)

We make fun of Episcopalians for their blandness, their excessive calm, their fear of giving offense, their lack of speed and also for their secret fondness for macaroni and cheese. But nobody sings like them. If you were to ask an audience in Des Moines, a relatively Episcopalianless place, to sing along on the chorus of "Michael Row the Boat Ashore," they will look daggers at you as if you had asked them to strip to their underwear. But if you do this among Episcopalians, they'd smile and row that boat ashore and up on the beach! ... And down the road!

Many Episcopalians are bred from childhood to sing in four-part harmony, a talent that comes from sitting on the lap of someone singing alto or tenor or bass and hearing the harmonic intervals by putting your little head against that person's rib cage. It's natural for Episcopalians to sing in harmony. We are too modest to be soloists, too worldly to sing in unison. When you're singing in the key of C and you slide into the A7th and D7th chords, all two hundred of you, it's an emotionally fulfilling moment. By our joining in harmony, we somehow promise that we will not forsake each other.

I do believe this, people: Episcopalians, who love to sing in four-part harmony are the sort of people you could call up when you're in deep distress. If you are dying, they will comfort you. If you are lonely, they'll talk to you. And if you are hungry, they'll give you tuna salad!

  • Episcopalians believe in prayer, but would practically die if asked to pray out loud.

  • Episcopalians like to sing, except when confronted with a new hymn or a hymn with more than four stanzas.

  • Episcopalians believe their rectors will visit them in the hospital, even if they don't notify them that they are there.

  • Episcopalians usually follow the official liturgy and will feel it is their way of suffering for their sins.

  • Episcopalians believe in miracles and even expect miracles, especially during their stewardship visitation programs or when passing the plate.

  • Episcopalians feel that applauding for their children's choirs will not make the kids too proud and conceited.

  • Episcopalians think that the Bible forbids them from crossing the aisle while passing the peace.

  • Episcopalians drink coffee as if it were the Third Sacrament.

  • Episcopalians feel guilty for not staying to clean up after their own wedding reception in the Fellowship Hall.

  • Episcopalians are willing to pay up to one dollar for a meal at church.

  • Episcopalians still serve Jell-O in the proper liturgical color of the season and

  • Episcopalians believe that it is OK to poke fun at themselves and never take themselves too seriously.

And finally, you know you are a Episcopalian when:

  • It's 100 degrees, with 90% humidity, and you still have coffee after the service.

  • You hear something really funny during the sermon and smile as loudly as you can.

  • Donuts are a line item in the church budget, just like coffee.

  • When you watch a Star Wars movie and they say, "May the Force be with you," and you respond, "and also with you."

  • And lastly, it takes ten minutes to say good-bye . . .

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Where on earth is THIS?

Stepdad Tony took this picture in the 60s while travelling through Europe, and has no memory of the location. He suspects it may be Alsace-Lorraine, but has no idea.

Anyone recognize it? Would welcome any comments...

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Positively Electrifying

I have a theory.

As I have been working with people and their computers for over 10 years now, I have had a small but memorable percentage of users who cannot get a computer to work for them consistently for love or money. Christa, Valerie, Dana, Denise, Alexa and Eric know what I mean.

It's the most bizarre thing... you could give each person a new computer every six months, and somehow each person's system will slow down to a crawl, have the most un-reproducible errors, have bugs that disappear when I sit down at their computer, with no discernable pattern. Except that it is, simply, THEIR computer.

I would say it's about 1 in 20 people who have this kind of random, inexplicable dysfunction. It's not a dislike for the technology - in fact, some of them have been my most ardent users. But Technology seems most reluctant to serve them!

Since we are not yet to that stage of technological development where we can interface with computers by any but the most direct means - pushing buttons - I have racked my brain to figure out what sets these unfortunates apart. It's not like they ooze a substance that jams the machinery! My theory is that it has to do with their magnetic field.

Each living being generates a low-level magnetic field. And I have not enough science to know if it is in any way related to the body's ability to build up an electrostatic charge of as much as 20,000 volts. We've all had days where every bit of metal we touch shocks us; well, it makes sense that we could be releasing energy through keyboards into computers, in such immeasurably small amounts that no significant damage is done, but it's enough to make things (in my favorite scientific term,) wonky.

We're still in the first generation of widespread computer technology, and 100 years from now, it will probably be possible to measure such tendencies, as organic bodies continue to increase their interface with the inorganic.

But I want it established that I thought of it FIRST. :)

Friday, April 11, 2008

Moral Outrage

How does an essentially lazy person filled with righteous indignation at the state of American government (on the verge of, if not immersed in, tyranny) do something about it? Those annoying low-level politicians who would come and speak to your government or civics classes would always tell you to run for office - that you can't complain if you're not willing to make an effort to change it yourself.

But even though I'm lazy, I'm also brutally self-aware, and I will tell you this: there's no way in hell I will ever be elected to public office. I'm overweight (therefore unattractive), I frequently say awkward, embarrassing or uncomfortable things, I'm blunt, and I'm a frequent introvert. I drive to the middle of the road and stay there, only to be swayed slightly off to the right or left based on the comments of the last intelligent person to talk to me.

This does not make for an effective politician. I think I would do far better as a member of royalty, put in place without benefit of election. My talents would be an advantage, and my failings would merely be an inconvenience. If I was only moderately good at my job, everyone would proclaim me a paragon and be relieved that I wasn't some perverted egomaniac and sadistic despot.

I've been watching the John Adams miniseries on HBO, and I tell you what, it really does open your eyes to the downward decline of the American experiment. We're the next Roman Empire, Eddie Izzard says, and he's not far wrong. It scares me to see how very, very close we are getting to the period of the Caesars in our political development - how many ordinary people even know that Rome was once a Republic? All anyone remembers is the Emperors and their excesses.

More later. Must go babysit.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Old but still funny...

Well, I must have seen this a half-dozen times over the years, but it still makes me laugh, so enjoy!

Airline cabin announcements

All too rarely, airline attendants make an effort to make the in flight "safety lecture" and announcements a bit more entertaining. Here are some real examples that have been heard or reported:

1. On a Southwest flight (SW has no assigned seating, you just sit where you want) passengers were apparently having a hard time choosing, when a flight attendant announced, "People, people we're not picking out furniture here, find a seat and get in it!"

2. On a Continental Flight with a very "senior" flight attendant crew, the pilot said, "Ladies and gentlemen, we've reached cruising altitude and will be turning down the cabin lights. This is for your comfort and to enhance the appearance of your flight attendants."

3. On landing, the stewardess said, "Please be sure to take all of your belongings. If you're going to leave anything, please make sure it's something we'd like to have.

4. "There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are only 4 ways out of this airplane"

5. "Thank you for flying Delta Business Express. We hope you enjoyed giving us the business as much as we enjoyed taking you for a ride."

6. As the plane landed and was coming to a stop at Ronald Reagan, a lone voice came over the loudspeaker: "Whoa, big fella. WHOA!"

7. After a particularly rough landing during thunderstorms in Memphis, a flight attendant on a Northwest flight announced, "Please take care when opening the overhead compartments because, after a landing like that, sure as hell everything has shifted."

8. From a Southwest Airlines employee: "Welcome aboard Southwest Flight 245 to Tampa. To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle, and pull tight. It works just like every other seat belt; and, if you don't know how to operate one, you probably shouldn't be out in public unsupervised."

9. "In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask, and pull it over your face. If you have a small child traveling with you, secure your mask before assisting with theirs. If you are traveling with more than one small child, pick your favorite."

10. "Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but we'll try to have them fixed before we arrive. Thank you, and remember, nobody loves you, or your money, more than Southwest Airlines."

11. "Your seat cushions can be used for flotation; and, in the event of an emergency water landing, please paddle to shore and take them with our compliments."

12. "As you exit the plane, make sure to gather all of your belongings. Anything left behind will be distributed evenly among the flight attendants. Please do not leave children or spouses."

13. And from the pilot during his welcome message: "Delta Airlines is pleased to have some of the best flight attendants in the industry. Unfortunately, none of them are on this flight!"

14. Heard on Southwest Airlines just after a very hard landing in Salt Lake City the flight attendant came on the intercom and said, "That was quite a bump, and I know what y'all are thinking. I'm here to tell you it wasn't the airline's fault, it wasn't the pilot's fault, it wasn't the flight attendant's fault, it was the asphalt."

15. Overheard on an American Airlines flight into Amarillo, Texas, on a particularly windy and bumpy day: During the final approach, the Captain was really having to fight it. After an extremely hard landing, the Flight Attendant said, "Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Amarillo. Please remain in your seats with your seat belts fastened while the Captain taxis what's left of our airplane to the gate!"

16. Another flight attendant's comment on a less than perfect landing: "We ask you to please remain seated as Captain Kangaroo bounces us to the terminal."

17. An airline pilot wrote that on this particular flight he had hammered his ship into the runway really hard. The airline had a policy which required the first officer to stand at the door while the Passengers exited, smile, and give them a "Thanks for flying our airline." He said that, in light of his bad landing, he had a hard time looking the passengers in the eye, thinking that someone would have a smart comment. Finally everyone had gotten off except for a little old lady walking with a cane. She said, "Sir, do you mind if I ask you a question?" "Why, no, Ma'am," said the officer. "What is it?" The little old lady said, "Did we land, or were we shot down?"

18. After a real crusher of a landing in Phoenix, the attendant came on with, "Ladies and Gentlemen, please remain in your seats until Capt. Crash and the Crew have brought the aircraft to a screeching halt against the gate. And, once the tire smoke has cleared and the warning bells are silenced, we'll open the door and you can pick your way through the wreckage to the terminal."

19. Part of a flight attendant's arrival announcement: "We'd like to thank you folks for flying with us today. And, the next time you get the insane urge to go blasting through the skies in a pressurized metal tube, we hope you'll think of US Airways."

20. Heard on a Southwest Airline flight. "Ladies and gentlemen, if you wish to smoke, the smoking section on this airplane is on the wing and if you can light 'em, you can smoke 'em."

Monday, April 07, 2008

Hide from Reality

Do you ever have that feeling that you'd just like to cancel everything and go home and stay in bed for a week? But then it's immediately followed by the knowledge that none of those things would actually be going anywhere, would still need to be done eventually, and you'd probably lie in bed and obsess about all of it?

What makes it worse is the knowledge that over 75% of it could be fixed by money. They say that money doesn't bring happiness, but not having it can really stress you out, and I don't find that particularly happy.

Too much work, too many commitments, demanding clients, health anxieties and no insurance, too many bills, no savings, taxes... I can't think of anything that would fix any of this more simply than money. And I hate that such a thing is possible.